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FSU College of Education working to combat teacher shortage

Published: Sep. 24, 2021 at 7:33 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - Leon County Schools is calling on parents and other family members to help the district fill a need for substitute teachers. This comes as schools across the state of Florida are experiencing a shortage of teachers and staff.

The Florida Education Association reported a 67% increase in teaching vacancies from last year.

The biggest reason many teachers leave the profession is lack of pay. That’s one thing FSU’s College of Education has been advocating for: increasing state funding for teacher salaries.

This year, Governor DeSantis allocated $550 million to increase teacher salaries. The governor’s office says more than 90% of Florida teachers now have a starting salary of $40,000 or more.

Still, according to the Florida Education Association, the average teacher salary in Florida is more than $10,000 less than the national average.

“I would meet teachers that would tell me to run from the profession, that it was something that they were no longer passionate about that, that the pay wasn’t worth it,” said Nicole Garcia, who is pursuing a masters in education at FSU.

Garcia decided to pursue a career in teaching despite many telling her not to.

“For me it was a matter of following my heart and doing something that I really enjoyed and something that I felt would change the world even if in a small way,” Garcia said.

Still, many are deterred from the profession, not just because of lack of pay, but due to stress.

“Sometimes teachers are overwhelmed when they begin teaching,” Addie McConomy, a doctoral student, said. “That could cause them to feel discouraged, and they might leave before they become true expert teachers.”

The dean of FSU’s College of Education said the school is actively working to not just recruit, but retain teachers.

The college has been advocating for higher pay and also recognizing award-winning teachers at FSU football games and giving tuition waivers to Florida Teacher of the Year winners to pursue graduate school.

“We know that education is the profession that allows all other professions to exist,” Dean Damon Andrew said. “So it’s very important that we recognize teachers and provide them with the best opportunities to be successful.”

McConomy said the pandemic might have indirectly deterred some students from pursuing careers in education.

“The pandemic might have caused some barriers to building relationships between students and teachers,” she said. “I think those relationships are the things that get students to want to become teachers.”

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